Harless story began in the upper section of Rheinland Pfalz (Rheinland
Palatinate) of Germany, in the Landau
City District of Muhlfofen, at the village of (unknown) Offenbach,
Landau, Rheinland Germersheim.
Palentine area of Germany had been devastated by
religious wars between Lutherans and Catholics and overrun
by invading armies in wars considered to be some of the most
fierce and cruel fighting Western Civilization had ever seen.
The area was not so much involved in the Thirty Years War
(1618-1648) as were other areas, but it became the battleground for
the French, Swedish, Spanish and the German Imperialists wars.
Because of this there was widespread destruction of both people and
property in this area between 1622-1707. During those years there
were shiploads of German emigrants coming from Germany to America to
avoid religious persecution.
In 1683, a group of German emigrants from the
Palatinate founded the first permanent German settlement in North
America at Germantown, Pennsylvania. This started a mass emigration
into Pennsylvania. There were three major reasons for the emigration
out of Germany in the late 1600's and early 1700's. The first
was that religious persecutions were carried out by both the
churches and the government. After the Treaty of Westfalia (1648),
which ended the Thirty Years War, the Catholic, Lutheran and
Reformed Lutheran or Calvinist churches were the only churches
officially recognized by the existing kingdoms. All others were
The second reason was economic and environmental
In Germany there were always economic problems due to the
constant wars and overcrowded conditions that existed. But,
the worst by far was seen during the Thirty Years War. During this
time, towns were continually being ravaged and plundered by German,
as well as foreign armies. In 1707, during the War of Spanish
Succession, the Pfalz was destroyed for the fourth time.
The third reason for the mass emigration was the
conditions that existed in Germany during that period. Often the
people were heavily taxed and oppressed in order to support the
nobility and to provide a military force. When enticing stories of
the new world were spread around, of being able to worship freely,
being free from the threats of war and oppression, and being able to
own as much land as they wanted, the people began leaving by the
In 1738, our ancestor, Johann Phillip Harless, age 22,
and his brother-in-law, Johann Phillip Preisch/Price, age ?? , took their families
to Rottersdam, the Netherland, where they boarded the ship"Winter
Galley", with Edward Paynter as commander. They set sail, first
for Deal England, and then for the New World. They would no doubt
miss their homeland, but were excited and eager to begin a new and
better way of life in America.
On September 5, 1738, the ship, the "Winter Galley"
was the first of 5 Ships, carrying Palatines from Germany, landed in
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. All ships had sailed from Rottersdam,
via Deal England, to Philadelphia and carried the first of our
Harless ancestors to set foot on American soil.
On the same day, Philip(Johan) Harless and Johan Michel
Preisch, along with the
male members of the ship, were at the court house of Philadelphia, did
take and subscribe the oaths to the government, which at that time
was British. They then settled down in Orange County, Virginia,
on the Shenandoah River. They were there for some eight or ten
years, and then they moved near Lexington (on Cow Pasture River
about 4 miles from Natural Bridge).
Then we find them in the
German New River Settlement, southwest of the present city of
Philip Harless acquired considerable land, raising a family of 5
son's and 2 daughters, and was among those who in 1750 built the
first Luthern Church west of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Ferdinand Horless, our earliest recorded Harless
was born in 1690, in the Offenbach, in the district of
Muhlhofen, County of Landau, in the Western Palantinate of Germany, near
the International border with France. He died April 6 1740 in
Muehlhofen, Palatinate, Germany. He married Anna Catherine
Volger, daughter of , on
(It was a common practice in those days to baptize a
child within one week of it's birth. Also, it is
worthwhile to note that the names Hans and Johann are the
German equivalent of the English name of John. And there
was a German custom of the middle name being used as the
PLEASE NOTE WHAT THE HARLESS ASSOCIATION SAYS ABOUT THIS INFORMATION:
Harless Family Association Bulletin Volume 40 No 1 Date
Jan-Jun 2002 Carol Harless Editor
FROM THE EDITOR: It has come to my attention
that we are having a problem with the parentage of Johan Philip.
There are a number of people out there on the Internet who are
attaching the name of Ferdinand as the father of our Philip. No. No.
No. Please-----if you are one who has done that, would you please
erase that combination. Way back in 1977-78 Gilberta Evans and I
became involved with a German publication bringing us results of two
potential people who could be the parents for our immigrant. However
there may be even more. What happened as a result of the findings
resulted in spending money to have one of the top researchers for
German research take a look at what we had. Mrs. Trudy Schenk came
up with the same conclusions. She even found for us what we believe
to be another sister of Johan Philip. We have insufficient evidence
to say that Ferdinand is the father of Johan Philip. I know this may
be upsetting to some, but to make a wrong choice is not good either.
If you have any friends who have written Ferdinand as the father,
Please tell them also that this is wrong. Thanks for your help!